Adamson said that while manufacturers are on track to build slightly more vehicles this year, the pent-up demand will keep the environment challenging for quite a while longer. - Photo: Canva

Adamson said that while manufacturers are on track to build slightly more vehicles this year, the pent-up demand will keep the environment challenging for quite a while longer.

Photo: Canva

Supply chains might be finally loosening, but we’re unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic days of easy fleet availability anytime soon. As such, Brice Adamson, president of Enterprise Fleet Management, contends that both fleet management companies (FMCs) and fleets of all types could greatly benefit from adopting new strategies that incorporate electric vehicles, telematics, creative spec’ing, and preventive maintenance tools to get the job done today.

“There's so much pent-up demand right now because of vehicles that weren't replaced over the last two and a half to three years and they still need to be replaced,” Adamson said in a recent video episode of Fast Forward. “I think we're going to be in this challenging fleet situation for quite a while longer.”

In the video, Adamson outlined the ways Enterprise Fleet Management is helping its clients navigate this dynamic business environment.

EVs: A Good Fit for Pizza Delivery

Adamson brought up the partnership between Enterprise Fleet Management, Domino’s Pizza, and General Motors to integrate 800 Chevrolet Bolt EVs into Domino’s fleet. Enterprise has delivered 100 EVs at select Domino’s franchise and corporate stores and will deliver an additional 700 EVs in the coming months. Enterprise Fleet Management was strategically selected by Domino’s for its local hands-on account management and to provide vehicle acquisition, financing, telematics solutions, maintenance, and wrapping for the electric delivery fleet.

Domino’s deliveries are defined routes and charging needs are moderate per store. “They deliver hot fresh pizzas, so they’re not going to be covering a large territory,” Adamson said. “This is a perfect use case for the Chevy Bolt EV.”

Domino’s plans to achieve its zero-emissions goal by 2050. “This is a really important step for them to make now because they will need to learn, as we all are learning, about living with electrified vehicles, what that means, and how to charge and manage them,” he said.

New Electrification Environment

With the transition to EVs, Adamson highlighted key questions that fleets need to address: Where is the vehicle parked at night? Where will the vehicle be charged? How many vehicles are going to be charged at a particular facility? How much time is required to charge these vehicles? Is a Level 2, or Level 3, charger needed? Is there capacity within existing utilities to accommodate charging needs? And there are many more questions that need to be asked.

For those fleets that charge their EVs at home, there are other questions to consider: “Does the driver own a house? Are they renting a house or an apartment? Can we install infrastructure there? There’s certainly not a one size fits all for EV integration,” he said.

Previously, Enterprise Fleet Management clients would fuel their vehicles predominately at public gas stations. The EV fleet in the future will be charged at a combination of public charging stations, at a company depot, and employee’s homes, Adamson said.

Enterprise Fleet Management recognizes EV integration can be complex. To help with this process, they recently designed an Electric Vehicle Information Hub with industry insights, tools, and information to help navigate considerations in this space whether companies are looking to save money, optimize operations, or meet sustainability targets.

Leveraging Technology Through Telematics

A study done in partnership with Geotab about two years ago found that 13% of the Enterprise corporate fleet qualified for electrification based on what manufacturers were producing at that time. Today, that figure has increased to close to 45% with the new crop of EV models that have been introduced, subject to availability.

Adamson says that telematics helps identify, for instance, the range of the EV being used. In addition, working with auto manufacturers, Enterprise Fleet Management identifies whether there are EVs that are being manufactured now that will meet the client’s needs.

Telematics has evolved from track and trace to how it can help improve fuel usage and driver behavior, which leads to driver safety and optimized routes. It also assists in preventive maintenance through engine alerts in a vehicle. The preventive maintenance service allows Enterprise Fleet Management to make recommendations to their clients. “It helps fix a problem that they don’t necessarily know exists in a vehicle right now, which might lead to a long maintenance experience later on,” Adamson said.

Supply Chain Disruptions and Vehicle Shortage

Manufacturers have built 5% more vehicles than they did last year, but it’s still below pre-pandemic and 2019, Adamson said. “We expect next year’s supply chain to show a little bit of improvement, and we will be able to secure more vehicles for our clients. That’s what we’re hearing so far.”

With vehicle availability continuing to be problematic, keeping vehicles longer on the road is a necessity, and preventive maintenance is now more important than ever. “Vehicle preservation is really important right now,” he said. “Let’s do the small work now (and avoid) the big work that’s more expensive and will keep the vehicle off the road for a longer period of time.”

Through its parent company Enterprise Holdings, Enterprise Fleet Management is also able to provide additional vehicles when clients need them, “for those downtime events or those short-term-growth events and seasonal needs, we provide total mobility solutions,” Adamson said.

Thinking Outside the Box

For fleets that that have been spec’ing the same types of vehicles, with the continuing supply chain crunch it’s time to consider alternatives, Adamson said, particularly with small cargo vans being discontinued in the U.S.

This is where spec’ing gets creative: “We have found aftermarket solutions that help transition a pickup truck into effectively a cargo van,” he said. “It’s still able to do the job for the client, and it meets their business needs.”

Watch the full video here: